Teachers union assists NPRI

Andy Matthews

Every week, NPRI President Andy Matthews writes a column for NPRI's week-in-review email. If you are not getting our emails, which contain our latest commentaries and news stories, you can sign up here to receive them.

I must say, Nevada’s teacher union honchos have disappointed me this time.

Surely they can do better than this.

Can’t they?

That’s a video produced by the Nevada State Education Association, featuring NPRI’s Victor Joecks testifying on the serial failure of education spending hikes to improve student achievement.

You really need to watch it for yourself. Go ahead. I’ll wait.

Weird, isn’t it? The video’s got just about everything one would expect from the union marketing machine. There’s the ominous music. The on-screen words introducing us to their bogeyman du jour. The video ─ eerily out of focus, naturally ─ of said bogeyman saying something antithetical to union dogma.

“Decades of spending increases haven’t increased student achievement.”

Cue the record-scratching sound effect. The replay of the terrifying sound bite. More on-screen text expressing shock and disbelief over the words that just came from the villain’s mouth.

And then…

Wait, nothing?

Well I’ll be…

I can only assume that, like me, you were left with a good deal of confusion when that video ended simply and abruptly by flashing a web address on the screen. It seems the PR team over in union land, in their rush to convict Victor for his hate speech, forgot to include something rather important ─ an argument.

Overcome with curiosity, I typed in the web address that the video had provided, thinking that maybe there I would find some sort of rebuttal, analysis or at the very least an anecdote or two that might seek to contradict Victor’s words. But still, nothing.

Even stranger is that a local affiliate of the union apparently posted that video on social media this week for all ─ including its own membership ─ to see. What this means is that thousands of teachers around the state received a powerful message that we at NPRI have been working hard for years to share with them ourselves ─ that more spending won’t improve our education system. And it was the teacher union itself that helped us get that message out, while letting our point go completely unchallenged.

I’m not sure how to respond, other than to say … thank you?

Perhaps the video’s creators thought Victor’s statement was so absurd on its face, so self-damning and certain to be greeted as such by the masses, that it didn’t require any response. If that’s what they think, then they haven’t been paying attention.

Remember the margin tax ballot initiative? That was a teacher union-backed effort predicated on the claim that Nevada’s poor educational performance was the result of insufficient spending. We at NPRI pointed out that the numbers tell a different story, as the past two decades have seen Nevada nearly double public education spending on a per-pupil, inflation-adjusted basis, without any increase in student achievement. Who won that debate? A full seventy-nine percent of voters rejected the margin tax at the polls.

What’s more, the evidence is mounting that even the union’s own members aren’t buying what the brass is selling. NPRI’s union opt-out awareness campaign has helped lead to more than 2,000 teachers and support staffers quitting their union altogether over the past three years, and hundreds more are no doubt getting ready to do the same in just a few days. What does it say about your organization that maintaining healthy membership numbers depends largely on tricking people into believing they have no choice but to belong?

Whether or not its leaders realize it, the teacher union’s credibility is shot. If they genuinely believe that public opinion is so favorably disposed toward their cause that they don’t even have to bother making the arguments to support it, then they are bathing in a pool of self-delusion from which they’re unlikely ever to emerge.

Frankly, I find it difficult to believe that their lack of awareness really is that complete. So I would expect them to feel compelled to offer at least something ─ anything ─ in that video to try to disprove Victor’s point. But they didn’t, and so we’re left with only one logical explanation as to why.

It’s because they know they can’t.

Take care,

Andy Matthews
NPRI President

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